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General Paper Essay Outline : The pros and cons of tourism

Disclaimer : This compilation of points is not exhaustive and is not meant to be taken as the best answer to the question.

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1) Its for the economy !
– jobs
– investment
– development of infrastructure that both locals and tourists can enjoy
– tourism revenue can be used for other things

2) However, there is a  problem with citing spillover benefits for the locals. The locals may not necessarily enjoy the same positive outcomes if tourism is being focussed on at the expense of the locals

- displacing people for the sake of tourist spots
– widening the rich-poor divide (rich tourists vs poor locals)
– keeping people in low end jobs or just seasonal work within the tourist industry
– creation of jobs  that harm society namely prostitution

3) For the individual, tourism is  way of fulfilling a person’s wanderlust

- to learn about the world in a way that simply reading about or watching cannot achieve
– to be rejuvenated by fresh sights and experiences

4) Unfortunately, the wrong values are encouraged by tourism.

- the financial ability to visit other places is now often used as a status symbol by some people.
– the idea that another person’s country is for the perusal and enjoyment of tourists, and that tourists are meant to be served

5) In addition, tourism has become such a thriving commercial sector that many of these experiences are no longer authentic

- services catered to the tourist e.g. shopping
– tourist only get a superficial feel of local cultures because tourist activities are not immersive enough
– so, the intention of learning is not well fulfilled

6) The value of local cultures are diminished, not preserved.

- local cultures become exhibits for tourists to enjoy, rather than becoming something genuinely cherished and practised with the true belief in the significance of those cultural practices
– culture is preserved for the sake of its economic worth within the tourism industry
– if cultural products are mass produced, then artistry is lost

7) On top of that tourism increases harm to the environment in several ways

- more wastage because tourist traffic means more is spent on food or products that are beyond the needs of an average person —> the problem of consumerism is magnified
– greater footfall on natural sites puts a strain on the fragile natural environment — more trash in the area too
– This challenges the argument that ecotourism is actually beneficial because more effort will be put in to preserve the natural areas that are slated to be tourist site

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General Paper Essay Outline : Social media gives rise to conflict. Do you agree ?

Disclaimer : This response is not meant to be treated as the only, or best, answer to the question.

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Introduction :

(1) Unlike many young people today, their parents, teachers and most adults they know grew up in the time before the internet and before the era of social media. (2) Those among them who are suspicious of social media point out how this technology seems to be some kind of Pandora’s Box that gives rise to the panoply of conflicts spilling out from the virtual world into real life. (3) They have good reason for this because the nature of social media lends itself to engendering and perpetuating discord or dissent. (4) This is not to say that the opposite – that social media promotes togetherness or harmony – does not happen. (5) However, the existence of such positive outcomes are insufficient to invalidate the assertion that social media triggers conflict.

 

BP 1 :

(1) Social media rallies the like-minded, for better or for worse. (2) It is without a doubt that so many positive missions have been promoted via social media. (3) These causes call for people to set aside their differences and work towards a good goal. (4) However, conflict becomes inevitable when the cause challenges any status quo, and it is social media that has facilitated this.
———- add examples here (environmentalism, human rights etc.) ———-
(5) It is also possible for the cause itself to also be genuinely malicious. (6) Then, social media could be misused to instigate and spread conflict.
———- add examples here (terrorism, racism etc.) ———-

 

BP 2 :

(1) Social media also gives rise to conflict because it is seen as the alternative to mainstream media and a viable outlet for political dissidence that would otherwise be suppressed. (2) Mainstream media is often known to be controlled either by the government or large media corporations. (3) On the other hand, social media is synonymous with freedom of expression which is buttressed, to some extent, by the twin pillars of the internet : anonymity and impunity. (4) Views that are anti-establishment find release in cyberspace because censorship, editing and filtering are far less rigorous than on mainstream outlets. (5) These ideas often start as seemingly innocuous, casual, personal thoughts, no different from the thinking aloud that other people generally do online. (6) Numerous ‘likes’, ‘favourites’ and ‘shares’ later, the anti-government perspective picks up steam and becomes a potentially formidable force for the State to reckon with.
—- add examples here (Arab Spring, Iranian elections, China, Singapore etc.) —-

 

BP 3 :

(1) To add fuel to the fire, any attempt at restricting social media also becomes a flashpoint because netizens do not want to lose their new-found liberty.
—— add examples here (CISPA in the US, ‘Free My Internet’ movement in Sg etc.) ——

 

BP 4 :

(1) Having said the above, the anti-government camp on social media creates constructive conflict and tries to take discourse to another level. (2) This happens when the government is compelled to engage its detractors more directly on social media platforms, or better yet, beat them at their own game. (3) While it does seem like the government is stirring up the hornet’s nest, this is a necessary evil for the government. Jumping on the social media bandwagon helps political leaders draw out the criticisms from the ground that they can address to improve their relationship with the people and the lives of the people they are responsible for, thus averting tensions from escalating in the long run.
———- add examples here (PM Lee’s FB page, Tan Chuan Jin’s live online chat etc.) ———-

 

BP 5 :

(1) Another problem with social media is this :  there is so much insensitivity that friction becomes the corollary of many online exchanges. (2) Conflict is rife among social media users when they perceive social media as the ideal channel for emotional catharsis. (3) It is not. (4) The erroneous assumption often made is that everyone else is just using this platform to vent their feelings. (4) Thus, many expect others to see that ill-will is not intended and users are capable of understanding another person’s actual message, even though it may be ‘embellished’ with digressions, subjective support, randomness, or the occasional expletive. (5) Put another way, conflict comes about when netizens try to communicate without the benefit of knowing the other person’s background well or appreciating the full context of his views, or having a long enough time to engage him to find a meaningful closure to the online chat. (6) Keyboard warriors write as if they are talking face-to-face with someone they know. (7) But they are not. (8) Often, short exchanges turn into misunderstandings aggravated by unsavoury outbursts, or incidences of trolling, meaning repeated online harassment. (9) Worse still when the acrimony degenerates into a flame war, with personal attacks and counter attacks waiting to reach their tipping point.
———- add examples here ———-

 

BP 6 :

(1) In addition, the viral nature of social media makes it a hotbed for conflict because it is hard to retract any harmful messaging that has been disseminated. (2) It is easy to distort a message just by changing the words in an attempt to meet a word limit that has been set, or attaching a little comment to a story that is sent out to others.  (4) These could have an impact on how the next set of readers view the stories. (5) Untrue messages, unqualified insinuations about a message or altered versions of the original message could (but does not necessarily) sow the seeds of distrust and unhappiness between different parties.
———- add example here (PSI readings issue etc.) ———-

 

Conclusion :

(1) In conclusion, social media is not for the faint-hearted. (2) With such a cacophony of viewpoints, conflict is to be expected. (3) How the conflict is played out is dependent on many factors especially the maturity and civility of the users. (4) As such, netiquette is a must when using social media for order to prevail despite conflict. (5) Every society can do more to prepare its members to make the best use of this phenomenal development.

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General Paper Essay Outline : Rapid technological changes have made people never satisfied with their lives.

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Learning Point : Activate tools that help you arrive at deeper ideas

http://prezi.com/7kefucggtfhq/inside-insights-brainstorming-toolkit/

Stand : It is not true that people are never satisfied, but the satisfaction that comes with rapid tech innovations is often short-lived

1) [HUMAN CONDITION – SELF ACTUALISATION] Satisfaction is very much dependent on how critical the innovations are to achieving a person’s goals. The pple working in technology hubs that create these innovations thrive on this creative destruction. This is how their sector grows, their skills are honed and their wealth expands.

2a) With rapid tech devts, we become more efficient, and this presumably frees up more time for leisure which increases our sense of fulfilment and work-life balance.
2b) [PERCEPTION] However, that satisfaction is fleeting because we end up either setting higher expectations for ourselves, or others impose their higher expectations on us.
E.g. Recent past to present : email communications
Now : whatsapp, chat messaging systems à even more instantaneous than email à forced to respond sooner; more interruptions to work à loss of productivity & quality à unhappiness !!!

3) [PERCEPTION] Rapid tech innovations result in us anticipating that something better will come, and makes us find fault with the technologies that we have today, even if there is nothing significantly wrong with them. E.g. connections speeds; 3G vs 4G vs 5G

4) [PERCEPTION] [HUMAN CONDITION][CONTROL] Similarly, rapid tech innovations raise our expectations that tech solutions can (soon) be found to overcome problems. After all, we want to use technology to gain better control of our lives and of our resources. Unfortunately, this also makes us intolerant of imperfections and flaws of ourselves or the things around us.
E.g. the obsession with skinny is fuelled by technologies that promise beauty using increasingly safer, non-invasive methods

5) [MONEY] Rapid tech innovations allow us to get newer technologies at a cheaper price. Affordability makes us more willing to spend instead of being content with what we have.

6) [HUMAN CONDITION] Rapid tech innovations exhilarate us with choices. The excitement, and inherent desire, to exercise choice among the various new technologies eclipses one major option: to just stick with what we have, be happy with it, and not acquire anything new.

7) [HUMAN CONDITION - PSYCHOLOGY] For some, rapid change is disorienting and destabilising. Constant need to adapt = tiring.  These feelings add to our dissatisfaction. In addition, diminishing returns sets in. This means that each new change gives less satisfaction than the previous change. So, when developments are rapid, satisfaction also rapidly slides

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General Paper Essay : Fame is a mixed blessing.

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{INTRO} When Britain lost one of its beloved royals, Princess Diana, in a tragic car accident, it was uncovered that her limousine driver had hit high speed levels in an apparent attempt to flee the single-minded, irrepressible paparazzi. Indeed, on any given day, fame makes manifest both its adoring and vicious sides to celebrities and public figures, albeit in different degrees. There is no doubt that fame is a mixed blessing.

{BP1} On one hand, fame is the key to riches and exclusive opportunities. Fame opens doors to more work. This is the reason why so many people put up material on social networks, blogs or video-sharing sites. Think of top Youtubers with legions following their channels like ‘PewDiePie’, ‘NigaHiga’ or ‘Baba Ali’ who go on to do tours and talks, or gain good advertising income. It is the same reason why tens of thousands audition for reality shows like The Voice, Masterchef or Britain’s Got Talent. Many want their passion or talent to be recognised while those with merely vain ambitions just relish the self-gratification that comes with their time in limelight, no matter how brief.

{BP2} When a person becomes more famous, and more sought after, he or she can also ask for more money for the work that he does. How else can we explain the multi-million dollar contracts that have to be signed for A-list actors such as Leonardo Dicaprio and ‘Iron Man’ Robert Downey Jr to star in a film? Many a sportsman, like top-earning soccer stars David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo, now bask in the adulation of their fans because their skills have helped pull them out of their working class backgrounds and thrust them into the big leagues of their game. Celebrities also enjoy the benefits of being product ambassadors to big or luxury brands of anything from appliances to cars and watches, and in Beckham’s case, even Calvin Klein underwear. Famous people get invited to places where the layman is shut out, where they mingle with their own kind, and network, offering each other even more ways to advance their careers. Is there no end to the perks of fame?

{BP3} Yet, despite all the exhilaration of fame, its downsides are disconcerting. Famous people are under pressure to live up to expectations in their competitive fields. As a consequence, some celebrities actually suffer from bouts of depression or low esteem. For instance rapper Eminem has publicly shared the intense self-loathing he experienced when he actually became famous. Another major problem is the higher propensity to fall into bad company because new ‘friends’ offer the newly-famous new experiences namely the destructive hedonistic life of potent alcohol, pretty women and party drugs. Once the partying has ended, their addictions would have ruined them and affected their chances of getting work, which simply perpetuates their low self esteem. Robert Downey Jr, like Eminem and many others, went through this same cycle and hit the doldrums before getting a second chance. Even supposedly wholesome sports personality golfer Tiger Woods destroyed his marriage with his multiple affairs. The grim fact is future stars could fall into the same old traps despite all the precedents set before them.

{BP4} Most famous people seem to tell the same story : Fame happened suddenly, and was hard to handle at the start; then, they have an epiphany of what fame really proffers – influence. They could be the new pied pipers and the people would follow. For example, former United States (US) Vice President Al Gore now pursues his fight against global warming and uses his fame to appeal to corporations and governments; glamorous actress Angelina Jolie championed the rights of children for the United Nations; and Microsoft founder Bill Gates funds an array of initiatives to improve education or combat Aids using his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Even this year, former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and diva Beyonce have joined hands for Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s Ban Bossy campaign to encourage leadership among women.

{BP5} What then is the cost of such fame and its resultant power? Public figures pay with their right to privacy. The media tends to pry into their lives, claiming that it is what the ever-curious public wants to know. But in reality, media companies are the ones trying to hawk minute details as sensational news. This is stifling and causes great stress, especially if the celebrity is not equipped emotionally or professionally to handle the media. From time to time, we read about superstars getting involved in altercations with reporters or cameramen who overstepped their already-arbitrary boundaries. Famous people are simply not allowed to be themselves and be at ease.

{BP6} To make things worse, when famous people get into trouble, it gets magnified especially via social media where even their fans and haters jostle to give their two tweet’s worth of comment. Celebrities become the perfect scapegoat for everything wrong in society from rising divorce rates and teen pregnancies to superficiality and recklessness in general. This only aggravates the trauma for the famous person and makes the process of recovery even harder. So we find Hollywood’s Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears taking years to bounce back after notoriously tripping into one scandal after another.

{BP7} On the other hand, only social media-savvy starlets like Miley Cyrus or Rihanna flip the constant intrusion into their lives upside down. They beat the media at their own game, by being the first to share their private lives with the rest of the world through photo-sharing site, Instagram and micro-blogging site, Twitter. They have won over a greater following of admirers or voyeurs, even though their incessant narcissism invites more brickbats too. This all just proves that fame is indeed a double-edged sword.

{RESOLUTION} In the end, fame can be intoxicating and empowering for some. For others, it is an accident, a happy by-product of their great work. Either way, fame can exact its toll on those who cannot wield it masterfully and let it consume them.

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General Paper Essay Outline : To what extent does international cooperation reduce poverty ?

(1) International cooperation is more successful when the parties that help do not exploit the poorer countries that they cooperate with.
– transnational corporations may expect low labour costs when they make investments in developing countries.
– or they may expect to buy raw materials at a low price in exchange for providing expertise and job opportunities

 

(2) International cooperation is more successful when the beneficiary governments are competent and not corrupt or lawless. This ensure the effective disbursement and use of resources provided from the international groups, companies or countries that collaborate with them.

 

(3) International cooperation can succeed if the kind of cooperation is suitable.
– peace keeping by international corps in vulnerable states

(4) In multilateral arrangements (that have more parties than bilateral arrangements), the opportunity for success is immense because more resources can be pooled. However, the possibility that any one of the parties does not fulfill its part of the agreement, makes multilateral cooperation riskier, meaning other parties suffer greatly in the event of failure.

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General Paper Essay Outline “The Arts are more important for Singapore today than the Sciences.”

Disclaimer : This outline is open to discussion. It is not meant to be taken as the only, or best, answer to the question

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Learning Points :

- Show the CONDITIONS FACED BY SINGAPORE that make either one more important than the other; or both equally important.

 – Show how each actually works/operates to fulfil its important role

[FULL INTRO] As Singapore approaches its 50th year of independence, many questions loom about how the country should move forward. One of those questions centres around the role of the Arts : Are the Arts better for Singapore today as compared to the Sciences? Singapore should take a leaf out of the book of the idealised Renaissance Man. For a people to move forward, they should value both the Arts and the Sciences as separate, yet intertwining, disciplines. In Singapore, while the emphasis on the Sciences continues to be important, the Arts – long under-rated and downplayed – are more important for its people and the country as whole.

 

 

[BP1] Singapore already has the clockwork efficiency and infrastructure that are the outcomes of the focus on science and engineering, but without the Arts, the city-state would be bereft of life and soul. The Arts is better than the Sciences for Singapore’s economy because it helps Singapore to stand out as a dynamic cosmopolitan city that is comparable with other world-renowned economic centres like Hong Kong, Tokyo, London and New York. Global cities that emphasize the Arts are able to attract not just tourists but also investors and very mobile talent because the love for the Arts is synonymous with diversity, creativity and tolerance for differing opinions. For this reason, Singapore organises its film festival and arts festival that have grown to become showcases for world-class acts and works. Indeed, the Arts help create the energy that makes the city exciting, fun and liveable.

[BP 2] Yet, the focus on the Sciences cannot come to a standstill because the country has to continuously apply the Sciences in order to find workable solutions to cope with more people and more trade. Hence, with all the above in mind, the government has embarked on a masterplan that marries both the Arts and the Sciences. This includes the development of the new financial-cum-night life district in Marina Bay that incorporates manifestations of science like an underwater expressway and an artificial reservoir to support water supply as well as centres for the Arts like the Arts Science Museum and the Esplanade Theatre. In doing so, the government continues to use the Sciences, but shows greater awareness of the role of the Arts in re-inventing Singapore’s image.

(The above is an example of a complete comparison as required in the question presented across 2 BP).
The BPs below show that the comparison is done within each BP.)

 

 [BP 3] The world today is full of opportunities. Sg has to provide opportunities for its pple to grow, fulfil their dreams, regardless of field – otherwise the pple could feel disillusioned, and may consider quitting the country altogether.

  • Sg should be Southeast Asia’s Silicon Valley. How? Science education has to grow to suit the technological trends of today and the projections for the future. Effective and current science education can help stem brain drain.
  • Interestingly, the Arts cannot be divorced from this very push for the Sciences, because both functional and aesthetic design have become increasingly important.
  • E.g. the Sciences – for building programme software but the Arts – for creating appealing hardware that is actually marketable.

[BP4] Furthermore, Sg needs to reflect on why so many pple in the Arts left to train and work abroad in the past. They did not see a future for their artistic talents and passion here. But their inclination for the Arts actually makes them valuable in the ever-changing modern world.

  • The Arts have made them more willing to look outside the box, whereas science training is grounded in (natural) laws that once discovered, are generally fixed.
  • Sg today needs more of such people because the textbook answers to evolving real-world problems that science-trained policy makers try to look for are non-existent.
  • The Sciences – develops systematic research methodology – one-track way of doing things or methodically changing only one variable at a time
  • Artistic Expression – far more fluid – greater tolerance for a mad mix of factors that shape society.
  • The logical, systematic solution (promoted by the Sciences) for solving the productivity problem is either to make people work more or use technology to increase output. However, the human aspect is not considered in these options. Thus outcomes like stress, fatigue or emotional disconnection are not carefully pre-empted. Healthy, loving relationships become collateral in a science-driven society because relationships are far more complex and are the result of the interplay of so many factors that cannot be quantified or measured by the scientific mind. The Arts explores these human issues. Continued exposure to the Arts can actually cushion the impact of over-emphasizing measureable results such as grades or output.

 

[BP 5] In addition, the less rigid nature of the Arts means that there is a higher tolerance for variegated human behaviours. Scientific research tends to ignore anomalies until these are proven to be significant for consideration. In this way, the Arts encourage empathy more than the Sciences.

  • The Arts – reading for allegorical, indirect meaning, look beyond the surface – even in society, symptoms of problems can be taken more seriously before the problems become apparent
  • E.g.  In absolute scientific terms, the number of problem gamblers in Sg is small and containable even after the opening of two casinos in 2010. Yet the Arts proffer a contrary view. The Arts encourage the mind to explore possibilities, see the world through a more empathetic lens and stress-test the moral values that a person holds dear; thus, the mind sees a more devastating fallout that absolute numbers do not uncover.
  • The new world we live in will throw up even more debatable developments, thus the Arts grows in importance.
  • Furthermore empathy and values imbued through the Arts inspires people to serve those in the fringes, who, by scientific calculation, are unimportant to society. Sg needs more of this as the rich-poor divide unabatedly widens

 

 [RESOLUTION / FULL CONCLUSION] Both the Arts and the Sciences have strengths. Both are indispensible for Sg to advance.  However, given that Sg already has begun its journey as a nation with a strong foundation in the Sciences, it has to look to the Arts to fill in some developmental gaps because its growth has not been holistic. The problems caused by this lop-sided growth are becoming more palpable. Therefore, while the Sciences are still important, the Arts are better for Sg today.

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General Paper Essay Outline : Is violence ever justified ?

Disclaimer : This is just a set of broad ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or the best to the question.

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Learning Point : Achieve a wide-ranging response

 

Stand : Violence is justified with very strict conditions — as a last resort in self-defence or in defence of victims of violence, as well as for the sake of maintaining order, provided precautions are taken to prevent the abuse of authority.
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BP 1 : Violence is justifiable if the victim of an aggressor has no other choice but to defend himself
— individuals against assailants
— countries under attack should fight back
— it is his or their right to self-defence
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BP2a : Violence can be said to be justifiable as a kind of help in situations that have turned violent
— riot police during riots
— but even in their use of force, they have guidelines to prevent them from abusing their authority e.g. restrictions on the use of firearms. This is due to their ultimate role of protecting the people
— military intervention to rescue a group of people who are subjected to violence – preserve the rights of the victims

BP2b : On the other hand, the argument in support of  violence becomes untenable when it comes to cases of military intervention in this day and age
— expensive and extremely politically troublesome to go to war
— Today, democracies need approval in their congress or parliaments to wage war against another legitimate leadership who will see this as an invasion that they have a right to put up a fight against
— As such, military intervention is usually taken with other motives that serve the country, not just to rescue a people
— e.g. US democratisation of Iraq, Afghanistan also done for economic reasons
— it is difficult to justify wars when good motives have been coloured or hijacked by other self-serving goals
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BP3 : It is also absolutely unjustified to use violence against others in order to hurt them or take from them
— attack other people or countries
— domestic abuse, rape e.g. Delhi gang rape, mass shootings e.g. Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook;
— genocides e.g. Bosnia, Rwanda; invasions e.g. WW2 etc
— “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent,” science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once wrote
— The quote implies that the violence was the outcome of the failure to discuss, rationalise, persuade, cooperate, win others over, achieve aims by legal means, compel using more intelligent or less brutal ways
— e.g. of competence :  6-party talks over N Korea’s nuclear programme, US sanctions against Russia, Russia mediating in Syria (as opposed to just declaring war)
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BP4a : Some may argue that violence is justifiable if it is for the greater good
— violent punishment now as a deterrent to potential criminals (death penalty, corporal punishment)
— torture for those who are detained in order to extract information from them (terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay; waterboarding)
— pre-emptive strike

BP4b :  While some would empathise with such acts of violence, each of them can also be argued against
— death penalty goes against the right to life, reduces the moral credibility of the govt that uses it, goes against the moral ideal of compassion
— in the case of torturing suspects, detainees may actually be innocent and clueless; gross injustices to individuals have been committed in the name of the “greater good”
— who does a pre-emptive strike actually hit ? e.g. US in Afghanistan
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BP5 : In relation to the above, violence is unjustified because it regrettably leads to a Pyrrhic victory — too many pernicious consequences
— war : pain for the families of soldiers, needless loss of lives of non-combatants; potential for backlash reprisals in the future; loss of property and all other things that were achieved through hard work; loss of cultural artefacts; loss of dignity of an entire people
— domestic violence : psychological, emotional trauma due to loss of dignity, promotion of chauvinism, effort needed to rebuild relationships, if this is even possible
— even projections of violence in the name of artistic realism become indefensible because these make the malleable mind more receptive to gratuitous violence e.g. GTA, films (Art wins but society loses)
— too little good comes from violence for it to be justified
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Resolution :  A violent world is not what we wish for, but the violent tendency is already inherent in Man. In fact, we need this instinct for our own defence. Yet, what we also need are ways to suppress violence at the individual, community and even the international levels with approaches that appeal to our sense of humanity. We cannot callously accept attempts to justify violence without thinking of its consequences.

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General Paper Essay Outline : Is there any point to predicting future trends ?

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Disclaimer : This outline is open to discussion. This is not to be taken as the only, or the best, answer to the question

Think about control/empowerment; our values or beliefs as well as the attributes of Man that make us see the point in predicting future trends. (Reference : http://prezi.com/7kefucggtfhq/inside-insights-brainstorming-toolkit/ )

Stand : Yes, there is a point despite …

               1a : There may be some people who are very skeptical about predicting future trends. This view is supported by a number of phenomenal developments that were not preempted, but yet shape our world in significant ways. One of these is the advent of the internet and social media. Today, governments and societies struggle to keep up with the challenges caused by social media that are unforeseen such as the rise of revenge porn among bitter ex-lovers or the hacking of government internet sites as seen in cases in the United States, Australia and Singapore. Because these trends caught us off-guard, it seems possible for even more unexpected trends and problems to arise. This makes predicting future trends appear to be an exercise in futility.

1b : On the other hand, such doubt in predicting future trends could turn us into helpless fatalists. While we concede that we cannot foretell every single development, it is just not right for thinking people to sit on our hands and wait for what surprises will unfold. On the contrary, the careful prediction of future trends can actually raise our chances of success. Consider the case of the nascent economies. A prediction of technology trends could help the government allocate resources to prepare their young people to become the knowledge-driven, technology-savvy workers of tomorrow. India, for instance, stands out for delivering a curriculum that introduces computer programming even in middle class primary schools. Governments that have the responsibility to improve the lives and fortunes of their people cannot just wait passively. They must predict future trends in order to be the first to ride new economic waves. 

 

 

2a : Those who are wary of following predicted trends ask : What if the predictions are wrong because they were made based on incomplete information ?

e.g. Sg : two-is-enough >>>> now, not enough babies !

2b : While it is true that hindsight is always 20/20, this doesn’t mean decision-makers should not go ahead and predict future trends. If decision-makers apply the principle of erring on the side of caution, then the predictions can be more helpful than harmful… predictions for safety and survival

e.g. steering away from nuclear power in Japan, natural disaster alerts to initiate evacuation, knowing the trends of diseases to cur the spread of pandemics

 

 

3a : Yet another view from among those who question the usefulness of predictions is that there is little point in predicting future trends because they are uncertain. There can be equally plausible but conflicting theories… so which one to follow ?

e.g. global warming or global cooling ?

e.g. fossil fuels depleting or not depleting ?

3b : It is not so much the accuracy of the prediction that matters….The ones who predict and become the authoritative voice of that prediction will gain influence and impact the destiny of others

e.g. Is Sg in a economic bubble about to burst ? Prediction by Jesse Colombo in Forbes magazine (2014). Why did the Sg govt swiftly try to denounce it ? Explain.

 

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General Paper Essay Outline : Do polls and surveys serve an useful purpose ?

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Disclaimer : This outline is open to discussion. It is not meant to be the only, or the best, answer to this question

 

Stand : Yes, they do

 

(1)    Some people hold the view that polls and surveys can help decision makers gather opinions to decide what to do next i.e. polls and surveys are proactive.

a. Gov
b. School
c. Biz

 

(2)    However, despite the function that polls are used for, the reality is there is a limit to how useful polls can be : FLAWS in surveys
a. Is it representative?
b. How was it conducted? Format : open-ended, multiple choice, range
c. Were the questions free from bias, or were they skewed ?
d. Were the respondents truthful?
e. In addition to the criticisms of the survey construction process, the data could still be misinterpreted even if the polls or surveys are properly carried out

 

(3)  Interestingly, some of these flaws can actually be manipulated to suit the aims of poll-makers because  polls and surveys are meant to sway opinions to garner support.
a. Use guided, skewed questions
b. Timeliness of the survey & the release of the results
c. Polls and surveys can be reactive e.g. to draw out the views of the silent majority over the vocal minority, if there is a hunch that the views of the silent majority will benefit the poll-maker

 

(5)    Polls & surveys give the perception of choice or democracy to the advantage of those who wish to influence

HOWEVER, there is no guarantee that the results of the polls and surveys will actually be used to create the change that people want to see. But at least, the people are made to feel that they are engaged or involved.

Furthermore, the lack of resources could also be an obstacle to actually putting survey results into action … So in the end, the people’s desires as expressed by the surveys are still not met.

 

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General Paper Essay Outline : Crime – Should society get the most blame ?

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General Paper Essay Outline : Is your society too results driven ?

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General Paper Essay Outline : the Arts vs the Sciences

{FULL INTRO} Albert Einstein once wrote “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.’’ All seek to ennoble Man’s life by helping Man achieve greater freedom and go beyond mere physical existence. In light of this quote, this essay seeks to present that it is not true that the Arts, not the Sciences, make us better people. The Arts and the Sciences share some common virtues that help us evolve and advance, but each discipline has its own unique qualities that make our development more complete.

 

{BP1} Both the Arts and the Sciences seek to discover the truth about things, but in different ways. Because science favours what we can observe and measure, it encourages a person to act practically, think rationally and systematically and investigate thoroughly instead of making hasty, naive or unverifiable conclusions. The person becomes better in a sense that he is more prepared to face real-world problems that require concrete solutions. Because of scientific thinking, people discover how the natural environment works. They improve on medicine and infrastructure that liberate us from the physical obstacles that hindered us in the past. A modern example of this is seen in the Human Genome Project which sought to unravel the intricate workings of human genes. Geneticists strive to find ways to use this knowledge to prevent and mitigate genetic disorders. This area of research shows that scientists, inventors or designers are better people because their work in the Sciences make them valuable contributors to society.

 

{BP2} However the Arts operate differently and thus make us better in other ways. The Arts encourage us to engage and express our emotions. The Arts inspire reflection and introspection on less tangible matters and relationships in a way that the Sciences do not, thereby making us better because our understanding of a subject goes beyond the physical or superficial. For example, the Sciences see a new development like surrogacy as a workable solution for mothers who cannot bear their own children. But the Arts goes beyond this apparent victory and asks : Would the surrogate mother feel love for the child she would give up and would she feel the loss of separation? Would surrogacy breed a new form of abuse of poor women who ‘rent’ their wombs? In other words, the Arts spurs empathy and moral thought, which then affects the codes of conduct by which we interact with each other. If moral thought is stunted, the process of civilising a society would be too.

{BP 1 & 2 shown above form a pair that compares the 2 items in the question}

 

 

{BP3} Apart from building morality, the Arts encourage ideas, no matter how wild. We become better people because we activate our creativity and we interpret critically. Such cognitive endeavours set us apart from other living things.

E.g. Literature, poetry, theatre are forms of creative expression that are open to interpretation, discussion, analysis of themes, characters & social issues >> all these invigorate the mind

So, the more of the Arts we have, the more we think. The more we think, the more human we are. This is crucial in the modern world which overwhelms us with products of science and technology which can leave us isolated, disconnected, insecure (ironic example : social media). The Arts, indeed, make us better.

 

 

{BP4} This is not to say that the Sciences do not  help us arrive at this realisation of our humanity. After all, is it not through science that we discover the complex workings of the human brain itself, and how evolved it is compared to other creatures?
Moreover, the Sciences pique our curiosity about the things around us. This sense of wonder and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding sparked by it are all marks of our human uniqueness and superior intelligence.
Besides this, critical thought flourishes in the Sciences despite the seemingly rigid processes of scientific research. That is why the debate between the heliocentrism and geocentrism is not fully closed even centuries after Galileo declared that the sun, not the earth, lies at the centre of the galaxy. Today, it has been argued that creationism is scientific, just like its antithesis, evolutionism, in explaining how nature came to be.
Debate and the questioning of the prevailing theories are alive in the Sciences.

Therefore, the Sciences can also make us better people who can fulfil the potential of being human which is by realising the full extent of our faculty of thought.

 

{BP 3 & 4 shown above form a pair that compares the 2 items in the question}

 

{BP5} However, it is unfortunate that the majority of people do not engage the Sciences in this manner. Their relationship with science is limited to the use of technological devices that make them dependent and dull their cognitive skills. Thus for most people, it is the Arts that appear to make them better people, because the Arts, is accessible via the media and popular culture. The fact is it is not that the Sciences fail to make us better, but because the people themselves do not interact with the Sciences deeply.
E.g. What can a study of environmental science or astronomy teach us ? We learn that like all organisms, we are small yet complex; strong in our immediate environment, yet vulnerable to external forces → the Sciences present truths that are enlightening, humbling and uplifting. We are better people when we walk this Earth with the guidance of these truths by being responsible for the nature that we have learnt about.
Just like the Arts, the Sciences can make us better people.

{BP6} Finally, the proposition that it is the Arts, not the Sciences, that make us better people can also be refuted by examining the problems that could arise from the Arts.

- Individualism – due to over-emphasis on freedom of expression

- Group-think based on emotional connections rather than the impartial reasoning that is nurtured through the Sciences

- Disruption to the status quo e.g. provocative works → potential to create tensions in society

- The encouragement of hedonism e.g. through entertainment, instead of channeling energies to solve real-world problems using science

 

{BP 5 & 6 are separate; each raises its own unique point}

 

{FULL RESOLUTION} To conclude, despite any shortcomings that each appears to have, both the Arts and the Science add value to us in several ways. Together, they fortify our belief that we can learn about our natural environments and about ourselves – not just in the physical sense, but in the more emotional or spiritual aspects too. The knowledge that comes from these two disciplines advance human civilisation – not just in the material sense, but in the social and moral dimensions as well. Therefore, any assertion that it is the Arts, not the Sciences, that make us better people is a claim that cannot stand.

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General Paper Essay : To what extent do leaders pursue personal gains at the expense of morality?

warning handle with care

Disclaimer : This essay is not meant to be regarded as the best or only answer to this question

 

There are many theories behind Man’s dog-eat-dog existence. Some point to the theory of scarcity which drives people from all rungs of society to compete for limited resources. Among the different classes of people are leaders, some of whom have shown that they compete to serve the greater good; there are others who back their good intentions with ethical actions. However, cynics and pragmatists put forth that leaders operate on the Machiavellian principle, meaning that the ends justify the means. What leaders want is to stay in power, and whether or not they demonstrate moral behaviour depends on whether that behaviour helps them retain power. Otherwise, leaders could very much pursue personal gains at the expense of morality. Unfortunately, even though we cannot paint all leaders with the same brush, there is plenty of evidence that give credence to this cynical view.

History has recorded the cruelty of kings and despots who aim to consolidate power or riches, or impose their will on the people. The most conspicuous and reprehensible strategy is to employ police powers or military action against the people so that these leaders can take what they want by force or thwart any opposition against them. Hitler’s genocide of over six million Jews during the Holocaust of World War 2 was conducted in a bid to realise the supremacy of the Aryan race. Similarly, under Pol Pot, over two million Cambodians were massacred because he wanted to establish an agrarian communism and sought to eliminate the cultural elite, the educated and all their supporters. In Egypt, General Al-Sisi who led the military coup that ousted President Morsi recently made his political ambitions clearer with his entry in the upcoming elections. More alarmingly, Amnesty International has described the 2014 court decision to execute over 500 Morsi supporters without giving them proper legal representation as ‘grotesque’. Such a ruling reeks of corruption and political oppression. All these episodes only reinforce the view that leaders pursue personal gains at the expense of morality.

Leaders of democratic superpowers can be no more moral than autocratic regimes. In fact the dynamics of world politics today gives a handful of countries, especially the United States, extensive control over the rest of the world. As esteemed British politician Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” When leaders come together, and they intentions are poisoned by the corporate machinery that support their political careers, what happens is oligopolistic economic subjugation of developing countries who are cornered into selling their labour and natural resources to the developed world for a pittance. Even in the case of America’s invasion of Iraq, it was found that the desire to control Iraq’s oil resources was one of the push factors for the war. The US government went to the extent of making fraudulent claims about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in order to tie Iraq to their anti-terror fight in Afghanistan. For the anti-war camp in the US, it became apparent that their government saw oil as being far more valuable than the lives of the men whom the Bush administration sent to battle in Iraq.

Beyond the direct use of force, leaders who want to achieve their personal agenda at all cost have a ‘weapon’ that they alone can wield in the state – the law. In dictatorships, the law becomes easily manipulable. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is notorious for many injustices, but one that impoverishes the people is the law to repossess land and property without notice. Bulldozers can be easily sent to demolish shops or houses. Meanwhile, in democratic societies, while there are safeguards against arbitrary changes of the law, a leader who gets the support of the senators or parliamentarians can still achieve the legislative reforms that favour his personal goals. In the US, corporate greed reared its ugly head during the subprime mortgage crisis, when the US Congress voted in favour of bailing out the banks in 2008 to the tune of $700 billion dollars even as many common folk had their homes foreclosed. It was uncovered later that the bailout money was used to compensate for the loss in income of bank executives who were already filthy rich.

Another underhanded strategy is propaganda. What makes propaganda immoral is when the people are hoodwinked into believing that the unfairness committed by their leaders is inevitable, necessary or beneficial. So they unwittingly give up their rights to leaders who want to control them. During the Cultural Revolution in China, Mao Zedong used his Little Red Book that explained the communist ideology. The book’s quotations acted as guide for party members to weed out intellectual thought. The rights to having independent opinion, being creative and expressing dissent were quashed. More recently, American war rhetoric has become another example to show how ordinary Americans were made to believe that the democratisation of Iraq and Afghanistan was heroic, even though these countries remain unstable up to today. These cases highlight the power of propaganda.

Be that as it may, there is a need to acknowledge a slightly redeeming characteristic of wiser leaders. They are the ones who understand that they can achieve their goals by moral methods. They understand that they can gain only if the group gains as a whole. This is apparent in businesses, where leaders think about the welfare of their workers in order to get the best outcomes from the workers and consequently more profits for themselves. Google is famously cited for having a conducive and enjoyable work environment that gives their workers enough time to develop their own projects. The leaders use this incentive to draw the best creative programming talents. This is far cry from labour rights abuses at Foxconn, a China-based company that manufactures parts for Apple products abuse. Cases of worker suicides and punishing targets tarnished public opinion on the Apple leaders who left this problem unchecked.

Yet, in terms of moral excellence, another category of leaders supersede the ones who want a win-win situation. They are the leaders who do not appear to even have personal goals in the first place. They lead (or led) with moral aims – usually to liberate their people – and they operate ethically. The past civilisations would have been graced by such leaders in the form of divinely-ordained prophets, but in this past century, the world has also seen with admiration how Mahatma Gandhi led India’s non-violent resistance movement against the British or how Nelson Mandela struggled against Apartheid. Neither had personal political ambitions but put their lives at risk for the rights of their countrymen. Both are sterling examples of leaders who did not pursue gains at the expense of morality simply because they did not even begin their leadership journey with personal gains in mind

While such exceptional personalities may come and go, the fact remains that many leaders are self-serving. While some strive for a win-win situation, it is probable that more leaders maintain their dominance by violating the rights of others or manipulating others to varying degrees. However, this grim revelation is not a foretelling of our future. We must still have hope that if we work to build fair societies today, there will come a time when leaders will not want to pursue personal gains at the expense of morality.

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Essay Content : Leave science to the scientists. (AJC Prelim 2012)

Read the links for further supporting details

  1. http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/abuses_of_science/how-corporations-corrupt-science.html
  2. http://www.michaelcrichton.net/essay-stateoffear-whypoliticizedscienceisdangerous.html
  3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/janetraedupree/2013/09/25/us-scientists-are-leaving-the-country-and-taking-the-innovation-economy-with-them/
  4. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-drug-company-money-undermining-science/
  5. http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2014%2F03%2F16%2Fscience%2Fbillionaires-with-big-ideas-are-privatizing-american-science.html%3F_r%3D0
  6. http://www.michaelcrichton.net/essay-nytimes-patentinglife.html
  7. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114127/science-not-enemy-humanities
  8. http://www.singaporestatement.org/statement.html
  9. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2012/sep/26/evil-science-soviet-bioweapons-research
  10. http://listverse.com/2007/11/18/top-10-evil-scientists/
  11. http://qz.com/179464/china-is-spending-a-fortune-on-science-and-is-getting-robbed-blind-by-corrupt-scientists/
  12. http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2000/mar/18/debate
  13. http://theconversation.com/scientific-fraud-sloppy-science-yes-they-happen-13948
  14. http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21588057-scientists-think-science-self-correcting-alarming-degree-it-not-trouble
  15. http://curt-rice.com/2013/02/06/why-you-cant-trust-research-3-problems-with-the-quality-of-science/
  16. http://www.drbriffa.com/2011/09/16/scientific-evidence-appears-to-be-becoming-steadily-more-unreliable/
  17. http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20080710_20021461howtoregulatesciencefrancisfukuyama.pdf
  18. http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21588069-scientific-research-has-changed-world-now-it-needs-change-itself-how-science-goes-wrong
  19. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jul/21/big-pharma-secret-drugs-trials
  20. http://hbr.org/2012/07/why-life-science-needs-its-own-silicon-valley/ar/1
  21. http://backreaction.blogspot.sg/2013/01/private-funding-for-science-good-idea.html
  22. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/10/how-the-scientific-consensus-on-global-warming-affects-american-business-and-consumers
  23. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131099083
  24. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/apr/04/morality-drugs-improve-ethical-behaviour
  25. http://www.salon.com/2014/04/05/richard_dawkins_is_so_wrong_it_hurts_what_the_science_vs_religion_debate_ignores/
  26. http://www.its.caltech.edu/~nmcenter/sci-cp/sci85072.html
  27. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-macmillan/bill-nye-creation-debate_b_4775207.html

 

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General Paper Essay Outline : As long as people do their job well, does it matter what they do in private ?

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.

warning handle with care

1) Some may argue that it should not matter because everyone should have the freedom to do what they want in private. It is their inalienable right.

2) To add on, whatever they do in private should have no effect on how their work is judged. This would help maintain fairness and meritocracy. (Credit to Elaine :) )

However sound the above arguments may be, these do not seem to be categorically applicable.

3) People in the public eye have a responsibility to be good role models because they influence so many people. Since their private lives are put under scrutiny, what they do in private does matter. (Credit to Najiy :) )

4) In certain areas of work, what a person does in private affects the integrity of his work and can tarnish the good work that he does. So what he does in private does matter.

5) When the private action is criminal and wrong, then that person has to be taken to task for it regardless of the quality of his work. It can even be argued that his good work cannot be used as a mitigating factor in deciding the consequences of his wrong-doing if he has caused harm. (Credit to Irfan :) )

6) On top of this, what a person does in private matters because the good quality of a person’s work could belie a harmful, unhealthy condition. Of course, this could be true for only a minority of people but the message here is that there has to be care for what goes on in a person’s private life even though he appears successful in his work. (Thank you to Dhanya :) )

7) The arguments above point to a common idea that a person’s public and private life can be hard to distinguish. This is reinforced in this day and age when so many people make their private actions public using social media applications. Everyone who uses social media must be careful lest their private actions have an impact on how they and they work are judged.

8) Finally, private actions matter because after being caught up with the sudden freedom to over-share their private lives online, people in modern societies now have to rise above their heightened vulnerability in the internet age. Their caution over their private actions cannot be based on a fear of being exposed. That would be hypocritical. A person ought to set standards that he can live by through and through, not just when it serves his work. Even if a person does his job well, his private actions matter because the public and private domains of a person’s life are actually not that divisible after all. (Thank you to Olivia for this powerful idea :) )

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General Paper Essay Outline : Entrepreneurship is just another name for personal greed.

 

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.

warning handle with care

other factors essay

Stand : The motivations for enterprise are varied.

1) Greed – evidence can be seen in different forms of abuse to cut corners & maximise profit

- reduce consumers’ welfare

- exploitation of the environment or workers

However, …

2) To fulfil one’s passion; share one’s passion with others. The money is secondary and a result of successfully spreading the love for one’s passion

3) To fulfil one’s potential and direct one’s talent by being one’s own boss instead of being employed by others. This is not for greed but done because of the need for self-actualisation which could be hampered if the person was used by his bosses to enrich themselves.

4) To fill a gap in society; to make an improvement that has not yet been done, or is not yet done well enough. Such social enterprises have to be profitable in order to continue running, but since ethics is the driving force behind the business, it is less likely to take actions out of greed.

5) To continue a tradition or a family business, even if there could be less money to be made (but better if the business could be revived to be better than ever)

6) To escape poverty or avoid oppressive work conditions; to become more independent when work is limited. Not for greed but for survival.

7) To learn to take risks; acquire real-world business experience.
The modern world values people who dare to dream, and work to achieve their goals. Failure is acceptable, even encouraged because it can make a person more resilient or “anti-fragile”. In such cases, setting a revenue or profit target is not out of greed, but because it gives a measureable goal for the start-up to work towards.  

 

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General Paper Essay Outline : In the digital age, do newspapers still have a role in your society ?

We saw several attempts at this question this term. So here is a compilation of ideas :) This is an old question, but the answers below are so different from what we got from past years, partly because we have observed more carefully how the internet & newspapers have evolved.

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.

warning handle with care

Yes :

- Important role of newspapers as the main platform for the government to disseminate information & propagate ideas to the masses

- There are some categories of people who are not IT-savvy, or do not have ready internet access. They still rely on the conventional newspaper.

- In Sg, there is still sufficient regard for the credibility and professionalism of the state-linked mainstream newspaper. This is especially seen in the way online news sites or commentary sites and blogs use the articles from the newspapers to develop their articles. Although some sites carry out careful and in-depth analysis, others commit “churnalism” which is when other sites simply re-hash what the newspapers already print. Either way, the value of newspapers is reinforced.

- While we acknowledge that some social commentary sites do have their own reporters who cover the news on the ground and thus act as an alternative to the journalistic work of the mainstream newspapers, these online media groups do not necessarily have the means or manpower to be as extensive in their efforts as the mainstream newspaper.

- The local newspapers keep up with times to ensure their relevance e.g. online versions, with accompanying online forums to meet the demands for greater discussion between the readers and editors or among the readers. Newspapers in Sg also include articles from other international papers like the Washington Post and the New York Times to fulfil the desire for more sources of news (Of course the discerning reader still understands that these articles have been carefully selected to meet the agendas of the Sg newspapers). Newspapers are even on Twitter to fulfil the desire for immediacy in reporting.

- Cyberspace is too expansive. And we are all so busy. As such, focused reading of pre-selected material in the newspapers that present Sg’s immediate concerns might not be a bad idea after all. We should get hold of news and information that matters to us most.

- In any case, we also know that the mainstream newspapers in Sg cannot afford to ignore the hottest news that have gone viral online. No matter how controversial or taboo the matter is, the local newspapers will have to carry such stories in a bid not to lose its readership. Otherwise, netizens who catch the newspapers being silent on ‘hot’ issues will decry the newspapers for being shackled by the government. What this means is that newspaper readers benefit from getting a clear presentation of such issues without having to trawl through pages and pages of online opinions which are usually a chaotic mix of reason, ranting, humour and, most unfortunately, hate .

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General Paper Essay Outline : Is poverty an inevitable feature in any society ?

inevitable problems

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.

warning handle with care

Yes, because some causes of poverty are intractable and some of the solutions have shortcomings.

  1. To begin, it must be made clear there have been many efforts undertaken by practically all societies to overcome poverty
    Government policies esp. education & job creation, Culture of philantrophy
  2. However, despite all the commendable efforts, poverty still persists to varying degrees due to many reasons. One classic reason is because the politically or financially powerful want control the masses
    Extreme case : North Korea
  3. Global job competition – oppression in the form of cheap labour
    e.g. sweatshops producing clothes for international brands — countries that offer the lowest wages can attract companies
    e.g. transient workers who work abroad but do not get enough rights
  4. Next, the widening income gap creates  a class of people at the bottom end within a society. People with advantages use that to widen their lead. The poor are left behind unless there is effective intervention
  5. Another systemic problem that makes poverty persistent is the debt-based economic system — people are not truly rich but in debt .
    Economic booms and busts can make people suddenly poor.
    Unemployment, repossessed homes
  6. Aid is a problematic solution to poverty
    Aid or welfare programmes can make people dependent on aid and not self-reliant, whereas aid from other countries or the World Bank and IMF usually come with strings attached especially the forced privatisation of national assets and flooding of foreign goods to the local market
  7. The aging population, our new reality — not as economically productive but need to use the country’s resources

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General Paper Essay Outline : Discuss the claim that in the modern world people should care more about international than national issues.

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.
warning handle with care

 

To begin, national issues should generally be more important to modern world people because their own national issues will affect them directly. When there are serious domestic problems to handle, people have to show care by directing resources to solve these issues first before thinking of caring about international issues. If they do not take care about their own backyard, the progress and development of their society could be jeopardised. In addition, since the modern world is very competitive, it could very well be in the interest of other countries to see their competitors flounder or fail. With no guarantee that anyone else will help a country in times of need, it is truly up to the people of the country themselves to ensure their own internal security, stability and economy are well managed. These must take precedence over international issues. For example, in 2008, when the people of Iceland, a modern society, found their country bankrupt in the wake a larger global financial credit crisis, the response of the people was not to consider that global crisis as something that they could help alleviate (by saving their ailing banks, for instance). They had to look into their own problems of governance to sustain themselves. While this case is extreme, it does reinforce the view that modern world societies should put national interests ahead of international issues.

 

 

Next, national issues should be a greater concern for modern world people because if the care for international issues becomes overwhelming, these could affect their own society.
In developed societies with large immigrant communities, there is a constant wariness that problems in foreign lands will spill over into their country and disrupt the peace.
Eg : Australia : immigrant communities, together with supporters from among the locals, use their freedom of assembly to protest problems such as the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Syrian crisis. As passionate as they are about their cause, some may argue that their energies are better spent on solving Australia’s many on-going problems such as unemployment or falling education standards. Their greater participation in national issues actually helps them integrate, instead of import new tensions to Australian society.

 

Modern world people should care more for domestic affairs because the truth is, no matter how much they can learn about international issues from the internet or mass media, their knowledge of their own country would be more complete.
This means that their care and actions to help local affairs would be made based on clearer, more accurate information. The care and help they give would be more meaningful with more direct results.
Eg. : Kony 2012 scam – millions of dollars donated over an anti-child soldier viral video that turned out to show only part of the story, not the whole

———————————————————————–

 

Counter Pt : Notwithstanding all the above, there are many moral arguments that compel modern world people to care about international issues.
Modern societies are the cause of international problems, so they are morally obliged to help
Modern societies have the technological or financial means to help, and control of the media to raise further awareness and aid for these international issues. So it is right for them to care.
Modern world people who are citizens of superpower countries have the added burden of influencing their governments so that their leaders, who have control of international bodies, will make decisions that are for the greater good of the world.
Modern societies evolve to become even more civilised by being part of a larger global human family. So caring about international issues is actually good for their own development.
———————————————————————

 

Rebuttal to Counter Pt : While the aforementioned moral claims are justified, and modern world people should indeed care, this care should still not be greater than their caring about domestic issues.
Due to time, energy and other resource constraints, even modern world people have to pick their battles wisely. Among the many international issues that they should care about, the ones that affect them should be given great attention because the international issue has actually become a national concern. Other international issues that have far less impact should be of far less concern.
Eg : No European country is in the six-party talks to end North Korea’s nuclear programme because … … Yet, Europe’s larger modern countries namely Germany and the UK have to absorb the shock of the general economic slowdown of the European Union.

 

RESOLUTION / CONCLUSION
In conclusion, modern world people are expected to act for the benefit of those around the world who have less of a voice. They are expected to aid, educate or create awareness, fight for equality or even stop a war. While all these efforts are necessary and noble, they should not be pursued at the expense of national interests. Poor prioritisation could lead to the destabilising of that very modern society upon which so many of the world’s hopes are pinned. Therefore modern world people should care more about national issues than international issues.

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General Paper Essay Outline : Should conformity be the main aim of schools ?

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.

warning handle with care

Thesis Statement : Conformity should not be the main aim of schools. Even though conformity has a part to play in schools, making it the main aim may undermine efforts to develop a child holistically and fulfil his potential. There are other social repercussions that result from making conformity the main aim of schools.

 

 

To begin, it must be made clear that this essay does not seek to reject conformity totally. Conformity does have benefits especially when it comes to instilling values :
 Conformity brings order that is needed for learning.
 Conformity facilitates the inculcation of a set of values that children can live by when they grow up and enter adulthood and the world of work.

 

However, despite the merits of conformity, it should not be the main aim of schools because the school system could turn into a factory, merely producing workers for the economy but not necessarily accomplishing the true intent of education which is to fulfil human potential, no matter how varied this potential could be.
 Conformity negatively affects the curriculum and teaching methodologies (e.g. not accommodating different talents, learning styles & learning abilities)

 

Next, conformity should not be the main aim of schools because conformity stunts thinking, which is one of the major intents of education.
 it quashes ideas, debate, moral courage, all of which are needed for the modern world but all of which can actually be encouraged positively in the safe confines of the classroom
 longer term repercussions of a conformist school culture

 

In addition to curbing thought processes, conformity in schools results in young people not being adaptable enough to the changes in the real world
 Do they expect only apply a certain set of skills ? No, they should operate with the mentality that they should be open to learning new skills. Schools should hone this flexibility instead of narrowing the prospects that students have

 

 
Another reason why conformity should not be the main aim of schools is conformity perverts meritocracy.
 assessment model that recognises test scores above other abilities  rewarding rote-learners & good test-takers more than passionate, creative & critical thinkers

 

 
Resolution : There should be just enough rules to make schools a safe place for a child to flourish. It is the flourishing of the individual, and not conformity, that should be the main aim of schools.
(about 400 words)

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General Paper Essay Outline : Education should only be concerned with useful things.

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.

warning handle with care

 

To begin, education policy-makers contend that mass education is meant to have a larger social or economic purpose and so, it is too idealistic to accommodate things that cannot be determined as being useful and for the greater good. The use of tax-payers’ money also means that schools have to be held accountable if they are ineffective in achieving these larger objectives. Limited resources means decisions have to be made. …

Pragmatists also argue that what is useful evolves depending on how the country or society changes and how the global environment changes too. This means that educators should busy themselves with gaining a better understanding of what is expected of school-leavers and ensuring that their education is sufficient. Moreover, the demands made on school-leavers and graduates are greater than in the past. Thus the pragmatic view that all effort should be directed at developing what is most useful for students indeed has a sound basis.

Be that as it may, education should not only be about useful things because education is meant to prepare us for a future which may look very different from currently foreseeable scenarios. The fact that we label useful things as such suggests that we already know or can pre-empt what is needed, but the future may not be the case. So, as a society develops, it should strive for a broader education that provides both what is obviously useful as well as what is deemed not useful. …

Education should not only be about useful things because this becomes a conscious effort to put a practical value to everything that schools decide to do. What messages are we then sending out to students about how to treasure the things around them ?

Finally, education should not only be concerned with useful things because formal education, being a long process and taking at least ten to fifteen years in the developed societies, can actually include both the useful and seemingly un-useful in order to give the best to the student. …

 

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General Paper Essay Outline : Women will never enjoy the same rights as men. Do you agree?

Thesis Statement : Women will, and do, enjoy equal rights as men but not in all aspects, and not in all societies.

 

 

1) To begin with, laws can be used to grant women equal rights as men. Positive examples of such laws that exist today act as a precedent to show that gender equality is achievable.

 

2) HOWEVER, the cynical view is that in rigidly patriarchal communities, those in control actually benefit from the oppression of women and view equal rights as a threat to their control. They will persist in using both legal and social pressures to limit equal rights between the sexes.

 

3) Despite the oppression that prevails in some parts of the world, in more developed societies, attitudes within  society can change, and this will in turn create gradual pressure for the government to preserve equal rights. — importance of involved fathers — women public figures and achievers — value of women in the workforce

 

4) HOWEVER, even in the developed world, it is ironic that the media, which has a great impact on attitudes, is guilty of perpetuating stereotypes that undermine the equal rights movement.

 

5) On top of the media frequently sabotaging women, the poor enforcement of equal rights at a global level is inevitable. This makes the success of the equal rights movement uneven.

 

Resolution / Conclusion :

In conclusion, the extent of success in achieving equal rights between the sexes has been varied. While women in some societies have cause to celebrate, in other parts of the world, there are deeply-rooted systems and traditions that cannot be changed unless drastic and revolutionary action is taken. But the cost of such action may be so severe, that the unequal status quo becomes as good as preferred.

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General Paper Essay Outline : The book has no place in modern society. Discuss.

Courtesy of Haziq, with input from the tutor.

Points :
Books, especially fiction – for escape, respite from the stresses of modern life – away from computers and technology

Book producers publish online or electronic versions of books to target the new generation of technology savvy readers – books thus remain relevant

However, books cannot compete with the other forms of relaxation that the modern world has to offers – gaming, movies, Internet surfing all are rich in audio visual stimulation

Yet, books can stimulate the mind in a different way. Firstly, online we are flooded with the opinions of others.  When we read a hard copy of a book, we can think about what we read for ourselves without the comments of others.

Next, bookstores and libraries offer a different kind of serendipity compared to the internet. While search engines group articles by keywords, the Dewey Decimal system of classification organises books by themes. So the chances the reader discovers a wider range of information and ideas  is greater when he reads a book compared to if he were to make a narrow keyword search on Google or Bing. (Idea from journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell)

Physical copies of books can have sentimental value and still make good gifts. The act of flipping through pages adds to the immersive experience of reading. A conventional book does what a gadget simply does not even though electronic versions are readily available today.

Finally, editing ensures greater quality control of books than self publishing or just borrowing and commenting other people’s ideas on the Internet.

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General Paper Essay Outline : How far do governments promise more than they can fulfil ? adapted from CJC Prelim 2013

Courtesy of Kang Wei, with input from the tutor :

Points :

(1) Stiff competition during the elections compel competing political contenders to make promises without being completely sure if these promises can be fulfilled. Basically, the contenders say what the voters want to hear just to win their votes.

(2) Political debate within Congress or Parliament ends in a stalemate if there is no dominant party. It is difficult to reach a consensus or difficult to win the required majority to pass bills and initiate the change that the government promised before.

(3) Corruption and the desire to just consolidate power instead of improve the lives of the masses can also lead to unfulfilled promises.

(4) Unforeseen circumstances can affect promises made.

(5) Despite all the above, it is possible for governments to fulfil promises because of some clever preparation and planning. Instead of over-promising, the government can put in the effort to moderate the expectations of the people, so when the promise is finally made, it is achievable. This could require months of perception management by the government via the media

(6) In addition, the nature or the scale of the problem affects whether the government can fulfil any promises about the issue. A small-scale, contained problem is more easily resolved, and so a timely promise to overcome that problem would make the government look good in the eyes of the public. Thus, the government would go ahead and actually make that promise.

Anything else ?

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[REVISE QN WITH MULTIPLE REQUIREMENTS] General Paper Essay Outline : Advertising is entertaining, but of little impact on consumer choices. Is this true of your experiences ?

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.

Revision / Reminder >>> Attend to ALL parts of the question

peel revision

Sample Phrasing of Ideas  for the Question : Advertising is entertaining, but of little impact on consumer choices. Is is true of your experiences ? (taken from the A-Levels 2007)

Note the THREE colour-coded parts of the question that ought to be dealt with appropriately in every paragraph.

The Examiners apparently prefer you to show an understanding of the terms in the question, instead of just repeating the words from the question.

1) Advertising can try to leave an impression by using humour or memorable music, but in my pragmatic society, price has an important role to play in the final decision.

2) There may be advertisements that are so catchy that the slogans or words become so familiar and even used for emphasis in casual conversations. However, the functionality of the product matters more. In fact, many a times, effective advertising is one that is more informative than entertaining. Product reviews in magazines or on the internet as well as informative ads, rather than gimmicky ones, appeal to the educated consumer who is looking for the best product to suit his needs. 

3) What then are the products that can best be sold using entertaining advertising ? In my society, an almost sure winner is food. Advertisers need to ensure that they have the right mix of jingles and preferably funny or unexpected scenarios to get consumers making the beeline just to try out the product or visit the eatery. The lively food culture here makes the work of advertising  a lot easier. Food is rarely seen as a big ticket item that would require a lot of mulling over before the consumer parts with his money. The challenge is to grab their attention before the competitors do. Hence the need for entertaining advertisements.

4)  Furthermore, the purpose of advertising is not so much to boost sales of a particular product, but for the establishment of a longer term presence of the brand in the society. In this aspect, the consumers in my society may very well be influenced by major advertising blitzes that titillate the senses. The sale of high-end luxury brands are to some degree fuelled by dramatic advertising campaigns that usual tie the products to illusions of sensuality, charisma and class, which are just the right entertainment elements to draw people from a rather status-conscious society. Even if they cannot afford the brand now, they will remember it when they have the means to purchase.

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General Paper Essay Outline : Competition, not cooperation, is the key to progress

Disclaimer : These are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be the only or final answer to this question.

warning handle with care

Reminder : This is a comparison question. So, play safe and compare in every part/point of your discussion.

Stand : Competition seems to be the cruel fact of life. However, due to everyone’s or each group’s limitations, cooperation would be the key to progress for more win-win situations.

1)      Those who are in favour of competition as the key to progress often argue that we compete to improve.

They proceed to propound that on the other hand, cooperation = not necessarily even or equitable work done (because each party could behave in a self-serving way).

Also, giving everyone a say, and calling this cooperation may not necessarily result in the best plan

However, …..

2)      we recognise that cooperation = more resources, more ideas
Competition leaves those with fewer resources lagging behind, and could spur the hoarding of resources to maintain one’s advantage

3)  Worse still, when competition promotes a mercenary attitude towards many endeavours (i.e. since a person, group or country does not want to rely on cooperation with others, they end up paying others for the mutual help that could otherwise be given when parties cooperate)

4) On the other hand, cooperation reinforces many other positive values. One of them is trust, as well as fairness and effectiveness in fulfilling that trust.  Cooperation would fail if any party is seen as untrustworthy, and all parties involved would not be able to progress.

The predominance of either cooperation, or competition, can have a deep effect on the general attitudes that prevail in society.

5) As an extension to the point above, competition adopts the principle of scarcity, whereas cooperation adopts the principle of plenty. This has profound implications on how we treat other human beings or groups especially the less able

6) It is not true that competition alone is the impetus for innovation. Cooperation to solve urgent problems can have the same effect.

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General Paper Essay Outline : ‘You only live once (YOLO).’ Should this be the philosophy that everyone lives by ?

Stand : It can be argued that every person could have opportunities to apply this philosophy to bring them happiness and other benefits. However, there are some risks that are not worth taking.

1)      This philosophy connotes spontaneity and verve for life, as well as other positive attributes such as a sense of wonder and excitement. The human personality becomes more alive. Otherwise, life would be too mundane. Could we be like walking corpses, especially in the modern world that can underwhelm us with long days and routines or overwhelm us with expectations ?

2) Also, encourages a greater openness to accepting challenges and unpredictable situations with optimism.

YOLO is about grabbing opportunities before they slip us by (and possibly not return), or striking while the iron is hot.

3)      However, this philosophy seems to promote self over others. YOLO also suggests recklessness. Possible harm to self

4)      Some decisions – and their outcomes – cannot be retracted. Some decisions have to be timely and better outcomes could come from more careful consideration and better preparation

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General Paper Essay Outline : Wealth and religion are incompatible. Discuss.

Disclaimer : Here are just some points. this outline is not to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.

They are compatible :
1) Wealth is needed to support, help manifest some of the values promoted by the religion like charity, saving or helping others

2)Wealth for independence – poverty can subject a person to the whims of others who could restrict him from practising his religion fully.

3) For evangelical purposes – preaching, may involve extensive travel or large scale charity effort etc

However, wealth becomes incompatible with religion when …

1) The means of acquiring that wealth contradicts religious teachings – cheating, exploitation, stealing, corruption etc.

2) Wealth is used in ways that go against religious teachings – decadence, wastefulness, promotion of sinful deeds like gambling or prostitution

3) The love of wealth distracts a person from other priorities that religion stipulates e.g. other-worldly ideals; that you can’t really take the wealth with you when you go

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General Paper Essay Outline : How important are memories ?

Disclaimer : Here are just some points. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only, or the final answer, to this question.

warning handle with care

Important !

Happy memories are great conversation starters; keep people together to some degree

To learn from the past – avoid mistakes, get motivated; learning to face bad memories (sometimes professional help is required), instead of denying them, is part of emotional recovery from trauma

Memories are a yardstick by which we make sense of our current state or current events e.g. how to know happiness, if you do not have memories of grief or sadness etc.

Memories shape our identity. Sometimes this is most poignantly evident among people who lose their memory – they lose their sense of self, and their connection with others esp. their loved ones

Our collective memories, when pieced together, give us an understanding of history

So important is this act of amalgamating memories that the act of suppressing certain memories from being shared can actually result in the omission of perspectives from our knowledge of history. This is how history can be manipulated.

The importance of memories has resulted in theories and the practice of behaviour modification. Behaviour modification relies on a person’s ability to regard his  memories of reward and punishment as a gauge of the outcomes of his intended actions. He then proceeds to commit, or refrain from, the act with the expectation of reward or relief from punishment respectively. There is much debate on whether this method is truly effective, or whether it causes other harms.

 

Not very important !

Bad memories may a haunt a person and be debilitating.

The same can be said for relationships where burying the hatchet is a means to repair broken ties, but not forgetting does not help the relationship move forward.

Can we trust memories ? Read here : http://www.rappler.com/science-nature/35365-science-solitaire-trust-memories
and  read here : http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/science/false-memory-planted-in-a-mouse-brain-study-shows.html?_r=0

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General Paper Essay Outline : Can we trust science to solve the problems we face in today’s world ?

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only, or the final answer to the question.

warning handle with care

Interesting & Relevant Readings :

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21588069-scientific-research-has-changed-world-now-it-needs-change-itself-how-science-goes-wrong

http://www.worldfoodscience.org/cms/?pid=1004299

http://ashartus.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/can-we-trust-industry-funded-science/

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/07/03/comment-scientific-evidence-what-it-and-how-can-we-trust-it

How do you know that you can trust science?

-          When it works (Is there evidence?) – environmental problems, poverty (GM food), and social problems

-          We can trust science if there are ways for us to ascertain that the motives of scientists are indeed for the welfare of the those in need

Why not?

-          Negative effects even though it is used to solve problems = over-reliance, raises ethical concerns, lack of regulation

-          Accessibility / pricing

-          When scientist do things for profit or fame (commercialization)

-          Are the results of the research ? Does the product actually work ?

-          Do the users use properly for the best effects ?

-          Science cannot solve problems that have other underlying or root problems (such as greed, superiority etc.)

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General Paper Essay Outline : Should governments regulate scientific research / medical science ?

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only, or the final answer, to this question.

warning handle with care

Some really good and succinct articles :

http://www.fasebj.org/content/22/3/654.full

http://eypuk.co.uk/2013/08/extent-member-states-regulate-research-use-stem-cells/

http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/01/regulate-medical-research-patients.html

Read this piece only if you have a whole lot of time : http://www.ehealthstrategies.com/files/fukuyama02.pdf

 

 

Interpretations :

What are the roles of the government ? – progress (economic growth, social stability); security

How can a government regulate ? – laws, incentives, rules / guidelines, checks & monitoring

What parts of scientific research can be regulated ?

- the product (What to research : harmful or beneficial)

- the process (How the research is carried out ; the extent of the research : any harm ? exploitation ? violation of moral boundaries ?)

 

 

Stand : Governments should regulate scientific research so that the research is beneficial to the masses, but governments should not control to the extent of hindering the progress of the research.

 

 

Yes:

  1. Utilitarian principle – greatest good for the majority + prevent harm to the public, end-users
  2. Set moral standards for society >>> Social stability – regulate what could be controversial and divisive
  3. Critical, sensitive research (e.g. defence) needs to be regulated, (groups of) scientists unauthorised by the state should be prohibited
  4. Economic growth  –  determine which research is potentially lucrative
  5. Prevent exploitation of end-users, test subjects, the environment etc

 

 

But do not regulate to the point of retarding scientific development. Here are some arguments against regulation :

  1. If other parties do better, then reduce regulation – Other may have better resources than the government + To increase competition amongst them
  2. Regulation prevents innovation and restricts the scientists from potential discoveries
  3. Government could implement regulatory policies based on simplistic or even alarmist views

 

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General Paper Essay Outline : Should the public have more say in how their country is governed ?

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only, or the final, answer to this question

warning handle with care

Interpretation :

more = a greater degree or extent as compared to the past or even the present

What does it mean to have a ‘say’ in ‘how their country is governed’ ?

Affecting government decisions, plans :

- vote in representative democracies ; referendum

- consultative style with various avenues to give feedback

- working committees that include people from a variety of sectors

Yes:

  1. It is their right to speak up for themselves, or on behalf of others. In democratic societies, the people’s desire for more say is part of the efforts to keep the government that they have elected accountable.
  2. Giving people more say can avert turning deep grievances that are suppressed into an uproar. The government can build its relationship with the people in order to make genuine improvements. This is to prevent the relationship from deteriorating to the point that citizens feel that either they will turn to the ballot box (or the streets!) as their last resort.
  3. Create a wider pool of ideas from which to put together the best possible solutions to problems
  4. The impact of an educated society  –  When people are more educated, they can make better contributions + as the entire society become more educated, it becomes more likely that the government will not have a monopoly on the best ideas
  5. Promote an inclusive society. This is especially important as the society becomes more diverse = also enhances sense of belonging and ownership.

No:

  1. Opposition can disrupt duty of government = White House shutdown
  2. Too many cooks spoil the broth : Is the best plan necessarily borne out of greater consultation ? No, not necessarily
  3. The vocal minority that are the loudest = may sway the government stand
  4. Does a more educated society necessarily mean the contributions will be well-considered ones that are taken with a long-term view and with a helicopter perspective ? No, not necessarily because some of the views from a more educated crowd could still be very much self-serving, albeit more intellectually articulated.

 

Resolution :

Let the public have more say.

But several other initiatives have to be seriously implemented . First, there must also be more public education on the pertinent issues that the government has to face. Second, the work of community building must be augmented. These will better the chances of nurturing people who will use their voice to speak up for the benefit of the society as a whole as well as for the most vulnerable members of society while understanding the constraints the government.

The government has the unenviable task of deciding which of the people’s views to take and which ones to reject or modify. Whatever its choices, the government has to be open and transparent in explaining its decisions in order to prevent resentment from taking root.

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General Paper Essay Outline : Has technology taken over from teachers ? Do schools still have a future?

http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/62120205?access_key=key-h0w5bj2ozqy7mvcm0yx

This link has some points that could be re-worked to suit these Schools-versus-Tech questions.

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General Paper Essay Outline : To what extent has technology made the world a dangerous place ?

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to the only or the final answer to this question.

warning handle with care

 

More Dangerous

(1) Access to information that allow users to know of opponents’ weak points

e.g. Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of sept 11 2001 attacks, analysed New York’s weak points without being physically present.

(2) Creation/Development of weapons

e.g. perpetrators of the Boston bombings learnt how to create bombs in the form of rice cookers from the Internet

e.g. chemical, biological, nuclear weapons development

(3) Cyberbullying

Eg Insults, flaming, inflammatory remarks hurled at users in Internet which may be as harsh or even harsher than when they are hurled in real life and the impact can even be equally bad or worse

(4) Online scams

(5) Social media leads to rise in conflicts and may escalate into a more dangerous threat – debates online get out of hand and may spill over to real world and even may potentially destabilize governments

(6) Invasion of privacy and access to confidential information

Eg. Edward Snowden leaked out NSA information to public and has caused an uproar among Americans, CISPA can be easily bypassed

(7) The problem of hoaxes/rumours/misinformation spreading like wildfire, causing citizens to be unnecessarily disoriented

Eg White House twitter account got hacked and message that it was attacked went viral = sudden change in stock market numbers

(8) A intensively and extensively wired city becomes vulnerable to attacks. The telecommunications, transport, internet and other computer systems become primary targets. Once destroyed, much of the city or country’s operations are disrupted = start of chaos if effective contingency plans are not ready

 

 

Safer

(1) Increasing cooperation between countries

Eg Quicker and more effective communication between national leaders

(2) Heightens security measures to protect lives and data

Eg increased surveillance for more efficient crime investigations

(3) Raises quality of medical science

Eg equipment now is more high-tech and can be effectively utilized to discover new cures for serious diseases

 

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General Paper Essay Outline : Discuss the impact of technology on children

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only and the final answer to this question.

warning handle with care

 

 

Positive outcomes :

aids in their learning (various audio-visual stimuli and activation of psycho-motor skills for learning, increases their independence due to wide range to things to learn about beyond what is taught in school)

increases their contact with others; they can learn the technology-driven way of communication which will be their reality in the future anyway  (e.g. supervised participation on social networking sites)

 

Negative outcomes :

promotes aggressive behaviour in children e.g. overexposure from playing games with heavy violence influence like gta

exposure to material that is not age-appropriate especially when internet security and booking systems are not put in place

adversely affects their relationships with people as their ability to socialize is lowered due to spending most of their time with technology instead of with real people; technology is a poor baby-sitter

lowers their attention span – moving pictures and texts in videos impede the brain’s ability to process static text i.e. impact on reading, concentration, memory and learning

addiction

lowers their health e.g. myopia ; sedentary lifestyle

increase in social vices – vulnerable to online predators

 

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General Paper Essay Outline : ‘We should always strive to extend our life expectancy.’ Comment.

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be the only, or the final, answer to this question

 

warning handle with care

 

 

Stand : I do not agree that this is an aim that we should always strive for.

(1) The desire to extend our life expectancy gives us incentive to make best use of science i.e. push scientists to discover cure for terminal illnesses, produce better food, improve sanitation and hygiene standards. Our quality of life improves in the course of this striving.

(2) Countries with a lower life expectancy are economically backward because their lower life expectancy causes the people to make decisions that affect the overall development of society. They may have more children, since infant mortality is expected to be high. They do not put in as much effort to get educated or maximise their potential for the long run because of the fewer years that they have to live. This means that extending life expectancy can have positive implications on the development of the country.

(3) However, beyond helping developing societies progress, we should not strive to extend our life expectancy because it may create problems like overpopulation
– finite resources (like food, space, medical facilities and experts) to fulfil too many people’s wants and needs, especially if there are too many people who are not working due to their advanced age

(4) In addition, is this scientific effort drawing resources away from other crucial or urgent matters ?

(5) There is moral motivation for trying to extend life, such as to encourage people to make full use of life or for them to give and get more from their relationships with their loved ones. However, such an ideal situation makes some assumptions that those whose lives can be prolonged will be in good physical and mental health to make the most of their extended lives. These assumptions may fall short of reality.

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General Paper Essay Outline : International sporting success is not dependent on a large population. Discuss.

Disclaimer : The outline below provides some ideas, and is not to be taken as the only or final answer to the question.

warning handle with care

Stand : I agree that a country with a smaller population than other countries can achieve international sporting success, with the aid of resources and strategic planning.

Those who believe in the need for a large population as being essential to a country’s sporting success argue that …

1) Larger talent pool to choose from.

More games played at the national level / formation of competitive national leagues in order for the best talent to rise

This means that countries with a smaller population size would need to import foreign talent to give their sports scene a boost

2) There could be a concern that the search for and grooming of sports achievers could hurt other aims such as talent development for economic pursuits when the country has far fewer people to do many essential jobs.

Those who think that that international sporting succeed need not be dependent on a large population argue that this is possible….

3) if the country puts in resources to groom their local sportsmen for the international stage.

invest in coaches and supporting institutions like well-equipped sports school, spend to send them for overseas to competition if the local competition circuit is too small.

4) if the country strategises to raise its hopes for success.

Start young.

Promote a sporting culture in society.

While there is a need to support the growth of unique individuals who show great potential, there is also a need to look at which sports can be most suitably developed among the general population (e.g. most Asians may not be traditional successful in sports where a sportsman’s larger build becomes his natural advantage. Thus Asian countries may want to cultivate the culture of loving other sports that make use of other strengths)

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General Paper Essay Outline : Education and Financial Gain

(Q) Should education be solely for financial gain ?

Disclaimer : This outline is still open for discussion. It is not meant to be taken as the best, the only, or the final answer to the question.

Note : This question has a (1) ‘Should’ prompt, an (2) Absolute Word that demands (3) Comparison, and is concerned with the link to (4) Money. Please be alert enough to see the multiple requirements of the question before you decide whether or not to attempt it.

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It should not.

1)      The true meaning of education includes the development of the individual’s potential; achieving financial gain is simply a practical yet superficial goal. While we recognize that the state may be focused on getting the people ready to join the workforce, each person is different and denying people a chance to develop their innate abilities goes against the higher aims of education. In fact, in our globalized world, better transport and open societies actually tempt those who feel unfulfilled to migrate, resulting in a greater loss of talent for the economy and the society

2)      Education is meant to support the survival of the society as a whole, so it cannot be solely about making money since society needs more than just money to survive. Society needs a set of values that will see it through thick and thin, in times of prosperity and paucity. These values such as love and care for others, unity and a sense of belonging to the country can be taught in schools to raise generation upon generation of people who will be selfless and not let social inequalities divide them. These values become even more crucial as countries grow economically and income gaps may widen or as countries become more entrenched in the volatile global economy.

3)      The purpose of education is to nurture active and critical thinkers, not just professionals who are merely income generators. Countries today face multitudinous problems including political succession, environmental woes, health threats and even the scourge of terrorism. These are over and above issues linked to making money such as diversification, research and development and urban planning. Schools must take on the challenge of equipping students with the tools to tackle with the known and unknown, economic or otherwise.

Above all, thinking should be among the primary aims of education, because thinking and knowledge are indicators of how learned a person is and how successful the education programme is. However, thinking – be it mathematical, philosophical, creative or in any other form – can be disruptive to the status quo because it involves questioning and demands debate. States that feel that this could derail their economic or political agenda may downplay this specific purpose of education, but in the long- run, the dearth of ideas and solutions could become more apparent, especially on the economic front.

4)      Having said the above, one may wonder whether there is ever a situation where making money becomes justified as the only purpose of education. One could posit that such a circumstance arises when the country is suffering from abysmal levels of literacy that keep the populace unemployable, severely hampering economic development. So acute is the problem that the government should be extremely focused on improving the lives of the people by educating and equipping them with the skills they need to earn  a living or the knowledge (such as health and family planning) to keep them work-ready.

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General Paper Essay Outline : To what extent does the media have a negative impact on young people today ?

Disclaimer : This is just an outline that is still open to discussion. It is not meant to be the only, the best, or the final answer to the question.

Note : The media is no longer one-way or top-down in its approach. New media and social media can be manipulated by its users. This interactive quality adds a new dimension to the points below

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When Marshall McLuhan famously wrote about television – the new media of his time – he proclaimed ‘the medium is the message’. Today the multifarious platforms that collectively form mass media have indeed conveyed very transformational messages to young people about how they can either influence or be influenced by the media. Whether the impact is positive or negative depends greatly on the maturity of the young people or the controls set in their respective societies.

To begin with, the maturity of young audiences has a tremendous part to play in how their process the content presented in the media. The impressionable or gullible among them are more susceptible to …

Changing their values and attitudes for the worse

Believing without evaluating or critically analysing

Following trends blindly

E.g. materialism, image consciousness, unhealthy ideas about sexuality, desensitisation to violence

However, despite such disturbing outcomes, the existence of mature and responsible young people helps restore some hope that the media does not simply result in pernicious consequences

Education – critical thinking, media literacy responsible action, positive initiatives, enterprise, talent development

Apart from the young people’s mentality and wisdom, the limits and guidelines set for the society has a pivotal role to play in determining the content that young people can gain access to as well as the extent to which they can act on any ideas that they are exposed to.

The role of censorship, advertising guidelines

The availability of avenues for help when young people get in trouble

The prohibition of activities or items (like guns, drugs) that encourage young people to emulate what they see without thinking

Young people have to deal with the media very carefully, because the media can shape a person

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General Paper Essay Outline : How interconnected are the problems that countries face today ?

Extremely. On many fronts, the fate of one country is inextricably intertwined to that of other countries, especially its neighbours.

1) A country can face problems because its economic partner faces problems.

2) Environmental concerns are never localised. The region, or the whole world, is affected.

3) Technology has exacerbated the potential for global crime syndicates or terrorist networks.

4) However, good government can also prevent a country from being (severely) affected by the problems that other countries face. (plan B ? diversification & spreading risk ? planning ahead ?)

5)It could also be a case of one country’s bad luck becoming another country’s good fortune

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General Paper Essay : The pros and cons of advertising

Disclaimer : This essay is open for discussion & is not intended to be taken as the best possible answer to the question.

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In a controversial fashion advertisement released this year, megastar Beyonce was featured donning a Roberto Cavalli haute couture piece, sans her famous voluptuous curves. Shocked by the blatant airbrushing of the photo, fans and pro-feminists alike joined in chorus to oppose what they called an attempt to sell an unrealistic body image to impressionable consumers. This episode highlights one of the many concerns that people have with advertising.

The problem with advertising is that for it to be effective, it has to do much more than promote the product itself. It tends to promote a set of values to the consumers. Once they have bought into these values as a result of prolonged, consistent exposure to advertisements, they could be more willing to consider buying the product. If it sounds very insidious, then that is precisely the intention. The final act of purchasing the product, or becoming a repeat customer, would seem like just a natural extension of having imbibed those values. For example, credit card advertisements are notorious for normalising a materialistic superficial lifestyle because they feature their target segment – young working adults – living it up with exotic travel, high fashion and fine dining all with just a wave of their card.

The response to the argument above is that advertising can convey positive messages just as much as it can convey negative ones. There are many examples of this. One is Dove’s campaign for natural beauty whereby the company uses ‘real’ women of different races, ages and body shapes to promote its soaps and cleansers rather than slender models. In addition, advertisements selling products that enhance health like bread, milk or toothpaste do not appear harmful because the products are inherently good for the public.

This means that another detriment of advertising could emerge if the product is not beneficial or even harmful in the first place. As a corollary of knowing that advertisers could peddle harmful products as being the silver bullet to achieve an attractive image, many governments have set curbs on such advertising. Singapore today, for instance, does not allow any tobacco company to advertise at all. This is a far cry from two decades ago, when viewers could catch a glimpse of the iconic Marlboro man on television and in cinemas trumpeting his brand of ‘cool’ ruggedness. The commercial strategically omitted the warning of long term respiratory illness or lung cancer that Mr Marlboro would be predisposed to.

Besides the inconspicuous promotion of undesirable values and lifestyles, some advertising strategies are just plain misleading because they sell a dream by means of clever posing, camera tricks and Photoshop. Will a woman transform into a glamorous starlet if she uses the same Lóreal shampoo as actress Eva Longoria ? Will putting on a pair of Nike’s Air Jordan shoes make the average runner just as fast as basketball legend Michael Jordan ? In almost every alcohol advertisement, the man with that right brand of beer gets the gorgeous girl, but can the common man be just as suave ? Advertisements leave the audiences with the idea that theirs is a ‘feel-good’ product. Whether that feeling gets translated into actual achievement is an entirely different story. Interestingly, while some advertisements, such as those for weight loss or beauty treatments, do make precautionary disclaimers (Results may vary!), these words are often too small to be legible and are dwarfed by the pictures of glowing success stories, especially of celebrities. Masking the truth and weaving illusion seem to be acceptable practice in the advertising industry, but this is unfair to the buyers.

However, to be just, advertising does not have to demonised all the time. Advertising is a thriving commercial sector. It hauls in billions of dollars worth of revenue per annum. Furthermore, this sector opens up employment opportunities at every stage of the advertising campaign, from the drawing board to the production of advertisements using multitudinous media. Moreover, creativity flourishes in the advertising sector because the competition to win contracts is so intense. The success of the product is very much synonymous to the success of its advertiser. This realisation spurs advertisers to get inventive and produce attention-grabbing, entertaining or memorable commercials for their clients as well as for the sake of their long-term reputation. Yet beyond making money, at the heart of advertising is a genuine fundamental purpose which is to help businesses grow. Advertising has become an essential part of business activity, and the expansion of business is one sign that society as a whole is improving, especially in corporeal terms.

In conclusion, since the benefits of advertising should not be entirely dismissed, what needs to be done is to work towards more responsible advertising. Depending on the culture of the society, this could mean setting guidelines to the kind of messaging that is transmitted, or the platforms that can be used by certain kinds of advertisements. Regulation could also help ensure that advertisements are honest and not misleading. Indeed, drawing some boundaries could actually compel advertisers to stretch the limits of their ingenuity to reach their target market. At the end of the day, society’s welfare is always put ahead of commercial gains.

about 800 words

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General Paper Essay Outline : Criticisms against democracy

The outline in the slides provide one-sided criticisms of democracy.
It responds to the question : Discuss the claim that democracy promises, but rarely delivers.

What are the strengths of democracy ?

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General Paper Essay Outline : Are traditional gender roles still relevant ?

already presented in Term 1

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General Paper Essay : Does technology divide or unite your society ?

Disclaimer : This essay is not intended to be understood as the best possible answer to the question.

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My country, Singapore, is one of the most wired states in the world. Many people, young and old, have a mobile phone and many households have one computer – at least. Like many developed societies, Singapore can be described as rather gadget-crazy judging by the winding queues at the launch of new tech-toys and devices. One of the many questions that arises from observing such a trend is this : With all this technology, are the people better off as a society, or have they become worse off and more divided ? I think divisions in society as a whole have become more pronounced, even though there a few emerging trends that give hope for unity.

(1) Technology divides because more information on the internet will offer varied opinions, and people begin to take sides. Technology can even be used to incite hate among the communities or interest groups.

-          In Singapore, there have been occasional outbursts online against people of other races, religions and nationalities. One recent case involved a scholar from China who called Singaporeans ‘dogs’ in his online rant. Such irresponsible behaviour naturally invited tit-for-tat mud-slinging from local netizens, and clearly does not help in building ties between immigrants and locals.

-          In some of these cases, the authorities have had to step in. In September 2005, the Sedition Act was first used in Singapore on individuals when three men, including a teenager, were charged for making seditious and inflammatory racist comments on the Internet

(2) Technology has helped spread anti-government feelings which may not be good for the country as a whole.

-          In Singapore, alternative political opinions thrive online because the local media is only nominally privatised, but is in fact tied to the government in many ways. This means that more often than not, the opinions of the ruling party and views that do not jeopardise the status quo get more airtime and space in the newspapers.

-          However, with a more educated, and well-travelled population, there is a growing thirst for critically constructive views, and an increasing disdain for pro-government group think. This is why websites such as The Online Citizen or those belonging to opposition parties, as well as blogs like Diary of a Singaporean Mind and Yawning Bread have enjoyed a surge in readership in recent years.

-          Furthermore, the foreign press is sometimes prone to write about Singapore or its government in a less flattering light especially in the light of Singapore’s abysmal ranking for press freedom in the world.

-          The mainstream state-controlled media lose some of its influence. All the above creates more tensions within society, especially since the government also has it fair share of supporters with their online writing that they feel will add balance to any debate

-          Moreover, when the state tries to manage these tensions with more restrictions, there is  backlash

-          The division that stemmed from greater access to internet technology and social networks even contributed to a dip in support for the government during the 2011 elections.

-          In 2013, when welfare group Transitioning.org successfully promoted a peaceful demonstration against the government’s Population White Paper via the internet, it turned out to be the largest such protest

(3) However, despite specific kinds of conflicts that have arisen, the pursuit of technology is itself unifying.

-          On the whole, the people of Singapore are knowledge-driven, and tech-ready rather than technophobic. Using technology has become part of our daily lives, thus, in this sense, the common experience has a subtle unifying effect that can perhaps best be seen when Singaporeans spend time abroad and make comparisons between what they have, especially in terms of technological advancements, and what other countries do not have

(4) In addition, the use of the internet and social networks are not just a harbinger for hostility. One nascent trend is crowd-sourcing whereby social networking sites are used to bring strangers together for positive causes. Cook a Pot of Curry Day is an example of such a positive effort whereby people from various walks of life heeded a Facebook call to cook a popular local dish, Indian curry, to signify togetherness against racism. In addition, crowd-sourcing has helped spread kindness to the less fortunate when self-initiated charity drives are conducted online, and members of the public respond with generous donations of cash and kind, thereby showing the extent of good faith that people have for one another.

In conclusion, technology has the potential to unite any society. However, mine is a nation in transition and one that is still learning to cope with the tensions created by technology. Some people may choose to use technology to create rifts between them and others, but this can be counteracted by more civic-minded and brave individuals who speak up against prejudice or other forms of animosity using the very tools that spread hate. This is the way that my society can evolve to become more mature and unified despite the friction that technology can engender.

(around 830 words)

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General Paper Essay Outline : To what extent is technology an equalising force ?

  1. Technology enhances education and can reach out to more people and enhance a person’s employability and prospects.
  2. Technology helps more people enjoy their right to life and  their right to dignity
  3. Technology can help the economy advance
  4. Technology connects, so that people can help each other
  5. Technology give a platform to voices that may otherwise not be heard

Despite the potential of technology, the reverse could also happen : the gap between the haves and the have-nots becomes wider. Technology becomes less effective due to a number of factors

  1. The people and country are generally not prepared to harness technology
    Developing societies : lack of literacy to begin with
    Developed societies : behaving more like passive consumers rather that active manipulators of technology
  2. Not having enough resources to acquire top-end, or the latest, technology
  3. Not being a player in the development of critical forms of technology : Arms race, energy race, transportation

Some quotes from Thomas Friedman, journalist and author of ‘The World is Flat’ :

“In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears-and that is our problem.”

“Communism was a great system for making people equally poor – in fact, there was no better system in the world for that than communism. Capitalism made people unequally rich.”

“The ideal country in a flat world is the one with no natural resources, because countries with no natural resources tend to dig inside themselves. They try to tap the energy, entrepreneurship, creativity, and intelligence of their own people-men and women-rather than drill an oil well.”

“Almost all the students who make it to Caltech, one of the best scientific universities in the world, come from public schools. So it can be done.”

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General Paper Essay Outline : How far should businesses be concerned with ethics ?

http://prezi.com/cuubrt1v_dnr/businesses-ethics/

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General Paper Essay Outline : Affluence is a blessing, not a curse. Do you agree ?

Interpretations :
Affluence = abundant wealth, including money and material possessions/assets
Blessing = benefit                      Curse = detriment, harm
To whom ? = to those with, and those without, the affluence (individuals, families, societies/countries, businesses)

 

Thesis Statement :
Affluence is a blessing, but it can become a curse if it is used as a tool that benefits only select groups, at the expense of others.

 

Body Paragraphs :

1. Affluence helps individuals and families get more of the things they need and want
a. List : food, education, housing, medical care, private transport
i. Case of education in UK : According to BBC, 57% of parents polled would want to remove their children from
the state school system if they could afford it, citing quality of education, discipline and class size as their
main concerns
b. luxuries, enjoyment : e.g. S’pore residents made 4.4 million trips abroad in 2001 (up from 1.6 million in 1991)

2. Affluent societies have a headstart in development
a. rich nations have more investments in infrastructure, technology, research & development, high value products
e.g. S’pore : among the most connected cities in the world – aims to be medical and banking hub in Asia

3. Being affluent means having the capital to increase wealth even further
a. investments in property and businesses
i. expanding and diversifying business
e.g. Facebook (from start-up to global company); Sg billionaire Peter Lim (wide range of investments
from Wilmar International’s oil palm to Thomson Medical Centre to FJ Benjamin fashion distributor)
ii. buying up start-ups or angel investment
e.g. Computer security company McAfee bought S’pore start-up tenCube, the company that created mobile
security service, Wave Secure
iii. rental income e.g. http://www.globalpropertyguide.com tracks the rental market for investors worldwide
iv. stocks and shares
b. government investments
i. Sg’s Government Investment Corporation (GIC)’s portfolio :
42% in the Americas, 26% in Europe, 29% in Asia

4. Affluence oils the cogs of our consumption-driven economy
a. Consumption is the main feature for measuring the economic health of a country
i. C + I + G + (X-M) = GDP    – for better GDP, the country and its people must have the power to spend
          ii. e.g. S’pore’s GDP per capita is around $60 000 vs Democratic Republic of Congo’s ($300)
b. better products, more variety of products will be available to meet the demands of a richer nation
i. e.g. international brand names in S’pore, but counterfeit goods in poorer countries
c. trickle-down effect ; multiplier effect
– when there is more wealth, even the less well-off will gain
when the affluent use their services or employ them, or give to them in charity

5. Affluence helps people, businesses and nations pull through an economic slowdown to some degree
a. More resources – List : savings, reserves, assets to sell
i. Case : S’pore – $240 billion (2012 figures) – 2009 was the first time that the President gave  approval for the
government to draw out reserves after 2008 global financial meltdown
b. But the poor have far less disposable income – can save very little

6. There is a link between affluence and independence
a. Poor, and especially war-torn countries – less money, little R&D – not able to develop.
Instead, they are dependent on mining, but are being exploited by multinationals
Case of Sierra Leone : biggest contracts for mining have gone to London Mining and African Minerals (listed in
London). The corporations received substantial tax breaks, which some say go against the mining act that is
meant to protect against resource predation. Much development is geared towards facilitating the work of
these corporations
b. Among ordinary citizens, affluence helps people avoid jobs that subject them to exploitation
Case of China : abuse of workers at Foxconn – reports of workers locked in plant; suicide of worker following
loss of prototype; other pay-related suicides

However, affluence can be a curse when it is not properly managed, or when it is used to entrench one’s position at the expense of others.


1.Affluence becomes a curse when those who are rich do not manage their wealth properly.
a. contributes to transgressions, or even crimes.
i. List : excessive spending (living the high life to the point of debt), gambling, alcoholism, drugs, going to
prostitutes etc.
ii.Case : Gambling is one of the primary causes of debt in the US,
but the industry is worth $550 billion per annum
iii.This is not to say that the poor will not face these problems, but there are some forms of vice and crime
that pose a possible temptation only if people have more means to even begin contemplating such a choice
iv. They suffer emotionally and eventually financially, and so do their families.
b. Bad risk management à heavy losses in investments or at the stock market
The option of making an investment is not available to begin with for those who are not rich.

2. Affluence can encourage negative values or attitudes among people
a. materialism – buy because we can, not because we need; encouraging debt à bad for the environment too
b. competitiveness within society; status-consciousness
c. can lead to disdain for local, traditional products (loss of culture) in favour of posh-sounding imports
d. money can solve everything (when it cannot)
i. Case : Addiction to plastic surgery; using plastic surgery to solve body image insecurities
2/3 of plastic surgery patients are repeat patients
ii. Corruption – Money can even buy justice
Case : Bo Xilai’s wife – murder of UK businessman Neil Heywood.
China, having been accused of corruption at high levels, is under pressure to show that its
justice system is not corrupt
iii. Family ties : Compensate for absence with material goods

3.Affluence becomes a curse to society when there are problems of distribution leading to inequality
a. When wealth is inherited or earned through hard work, there can be greater insensitivity to the plight of the
poor à it’s their fault à they do not deserve help
b. Case : S’pore – highest concentration of millionaires in the world, but second highest income gap in the world
– the act of blaming the poor can be seen as a contributor to the policies that do not help reduce inequality
e.g. govt adamant against minimum wage even though wages of menial workers is extremely low when
compared other developed countries
e.g. price of public housing increased more times than the rise in income
c. When wealth is seen as only enjoyed by a specific group (e.g. people of Chinese descent in Indonesia)
à social unrest

4.The economy’s reliance on affluence causes problems for all countries within this global economic order
a. Consumption-driven, debt-based economy – too reliant on spending
– If the biggest markets for goods (US , Europe) slow down consumption, the other countries are affected.
b. Irresponsible, fraudulent printing of money just to keep up the facade of wealth needed to boost spending & debt

5. Affluence can kill enterprise
a. When large players buy out start-ups and small companies, or use economies of scale to squeeze them out
i. e.g. Microsoft Windows comes with Internet Explorer (end of Netscape Navigator)
ii. e.g. Google acquired Jaiku, but did little to develop it, causing Jaiku users to migrate en masse to Twitter.
Many others cases of neglect by rich companies that buy out small players

6. The wealthy, corporations and some lobby groups use their affluence to influence policies
a. Case of US : Pro-rich policies (such as cuts to capital gains tax) did not lead to the ‘trickle-down’ effect as expected,
and in fact did not prevent the second largest economic collapse of the past 100 years.
In short, the rich did not spread / share their wealth very much.
But now, when Obama tries to tax the rich, he faces fierce opposition.

b. Opensecrets.org – non-partisan group that monitors money’s influence on US elections and public policy

Resolution :
Having said all of the above, affluence is essentially a blessing. Our daily experiences of enjoying the many things we have are testament to this. However, affluence is not without challenges. We can do much more – as individuals, a society or a nation – so that affluence becomes less of a curse. For this to happen, we need to re-envision affluence as a responsibility – not just a source of pleasure and power.

Any other ideas ?

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General Paper Essay Outline : Should the state intervene in matters of life and death ?

[INTRO] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by members of the United Nations in 1948 to show their in-principle support for the preservation of the fundamental rights of people. However, because states are not bound to uphold the articles of the Declaration to their fullest extent, some of these rights have been curtailed to varying degrees, including the rights pertaining to matters of life and death. Governments do so by enacting laws, setting regulations or providing incentives that either directly or indirectly affect these matters such as anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia or pro-choice legislation, population control policies and the death penalty. While governments could argue that they have just cause for their actions, the extent of their intervention should not lead to a complete usurpation of the individual’s basic freedom.

[BP 1] If the state were to be consistent with the UN Declaration, then it should intervene insofar that its decisions reflect an impassioned pro-life position. Nobel Peace Laureate Sean Macbride said that by extending the understanding of the Declaration, then one could propose the ‘right to refuse to kill’ as an article that would be compatible to the others … …

[BP 2 – opposing view] States that oppose this might actually deem this the soft approach that dulls their ability to use their full authority when they need it … …

[BP 3 – counter] The argument above opens up a human rights minefield because of the potential for the state’s abuse of power. How should the state draw the line ? Here is one possible answer : the state should preserve life, and in so doing if it has to kill in order to save the lives of many, then it should go ahead and do so

[BP 4] On the other hand, one could argue that there are other means that states should apply to approach the desired effect, without resorting to an encroachment of the rights of individuals … …

[Resolution / Wrap-Up] The state has a duty to the people, but it also cannot use this duty as a pretext to consciously limit the opportunity for life. While the state has to take care of the greater good, the state should also be held to a higher standard, beyond just the ability to control the masses and maintain order using Machiavellian means. I agree with state intervention as long as it is underpinned by veneration of Life.

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Meet All Question Requirements / Relevance is Everything

A revision piece from last term. Always remember : RELEVANCE is EVERYTHING.

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Interpretation Practice / Review – because starting right matters

These slides are from last term.

Here are some of the earlier posts that pertain to the value of interpretation :

http://h1generalpaper.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/summary-of-consultation-3/

http://h1generalpaper.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/what-does-the-question-ask-for-a-re-post/

http://h1generalpaper.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/sample-introduction-interpreting-the-question-terms-right-from-the-start/

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